It’s been quite the week of actual college football news thus far. Not only did we get a real live schedule for the Big Ten on Wednesday, but today we received the very first official preseason poll as the Amway Coaches Poll was released.
The top of the rankings are the usual suspects, but the bottom half has some interesting notes. First and foremost, your Iowa Hawkeyes come in at #23 to start the season. At first glance, that seems pretty reasonable.
Iowa is heading into 2020 with a brand new QB after 3-year starter Nate Stanley graduated. They’ll also be looking to replace the #12 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft as right tackle Tristan Wirfs is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. On the defensive side of the ball, there are more question marks. All-world defensive end A.J. Epenesa is a Buffalo Bill. Geno Stone is now a Baltimore Raven. And Michael Ojemudia is a Denver Bronco. Such is life when Phil Parker is developing guys.
With those departures, Iowa is set to have some work to do. But they also return virtually every skill position guy on the offensive side of the ball, as well as a pair of Outland Trophy Watch List guys in Alaric Jackson and Coy Cronk. The defense also has defensive end Chauncey Golston back, as well as linebackers Djimon Colbert and Nick Niemann and Matt Hankins and Jack Koerner in the secondary. It’s a solid group of returners that won 10 games a season ago.
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- Oklahoma State
- North Carolina
- Central Florida
- Virginia Tech
- Iowa State
Contrasting Iowa’s reasonable 23rd ranking is a head-scratching USC at #17. In case you forgot, Iowa absolutely waxed USC in the Holiday Bowl a season ago ending the Trojans’ 8-5 year. Apparently most of the nation’s coaches did forget that.
They’ve also managed to forget that Iowa State is still Iowa State. That 7-6 team has some.... question marks heading into 2020, but no matter because they have the greatest QB/coach combo in the world who will surely figure out how to beat Iowa one of these years!
Outside of the head-scratchers, it’s worth noting that nearly half of the Big Ten (6) is in the top-25 to start the year. That includes three from each division. The #12 Wisconsin Badgers headline the West with Minnesota coming in at #18. In the East, Ohio State gonna Ohio State and they come in at #2, lest we forget 55-24. Penn State joins them as the only other top-10 team in the conference at #8. Michigan is the final Big Ten team to make the list, coming in at #15 nationally.
The Hawkeyes will face off with four of those five other ranked opponents. With the new conference-only schedule, that makes a full 40% of the season against top-25 teams, including a pair of road trips to top-10 teams in the back half of the year.
Iowa will kick the season off in Kinnick Stadium on September 5th against the unranked Maryland Terrapins.